Heroes of Horror: Shudder Streaming Service

Shudder streaming service is the greatest thing to happen to horror. The end.

I came very close to making that statement the entire content of this blog–both the fantastic The Invitation and the fantastic Glorious Shit Frankenstein’s Army arrived today and I’m dying for a double feature…ostensibly, to take notes and blog about them later. But both Shudder and my (3, I think) followers deserve better than that, so I’ll elaborate.

Shudder is the greatest thing to happen to horror fans. Full disclosure, I don’t work for Shudder but would jump at the opportunity, except that I am uniquely unqualified to do anything but offer amateur, semi-irreverent reviews/analyses on lesser known horror movies, and they have the mighty, funnier, more knowledgeable Joe Bob Briggs (and guaranteed future HoH blog on Joe Bob) now to do a far better job on a regular basis, so I’m fairly confident that I will be continuing my brilliant career of being gainfully unemployed…indefinitely. So, rest assured–if it sounds as though I am kissing excessive ass, well, all I can say is that Shudder has a pretty kiss-worthy ass.

And boy, have they come a long way. I actually hipped onto them when they were still completely beta in 2015…and while, they were arguably worth the then $4.99/mo, they were pretty rough with limited selection. Even then I recognized their potential; my reasons for bailing were more personal–none of their selections were captioned. As somebody who has a close Deaf family member and who worked within the Deaf community off and on for 26 years…that was and still is a deal-breaker. To be fair, when Netflix began streaming, none of their selections were captioned either, and they had the bigass DVD rental funds to do so. Deaf folks used to call it the “Deaf tax” and had to sue Netflix into compliance. So, while I was disappointed and felt that, on principle’s, I couldn’t subscribe, I was not entirely unsympathetic (even if they are owned by AMC).

Out of curiosity, I checked oit

Shudder about a year and a half ago and saw definite improvement. Being one of those obnoxious people who will write public figures when something bothers me, whether they be human, corporate or politician, I sent them an email, saying, “Yeah, better…but how about going full compliance?”. I honestly didn’t expect a reply, but I received a human-written response which struck me as genuine, to the effect of, “You are absolutely right and we are seriously working on it”, and added that they had captioned about 60% of their selections…so I signed on, and hoping to sweeten the deal, I reminded them that every Deaf person I’ve ever been close to fucking loved horror, so captioning would be a definite win-win.

I’m not sure what the exact numbers of the captioned content they press h offer, but by god, it must be close to 100%. And I’m sure this allll came about because I complained, so you’re welcome. Okay, that’s obvious bullshit, but here is one of the biggest reasons a horror fan should subscribe to Shudder, even if they have elebenty-two other streaming services: Shudder listens to their members in a way that no other streaming service does and, get this: they have a request form for movies you would like to see and then THEY ACTUALLY GET THEM. Out of the roughly two dozen times I have sent them a movie request, I would say they came through about 18 times…usually within a month or two. And since I tend to ask for some goddamn obscure titles, that’s a damn good ratio. Good luck getting Netflix to care at all what you fucking want or even finding a way to contact a human online.

That goes for Shudder’s support services, too. On the rare occasions I’ve experienced any problem, support has always returned my email promptly–and, more importantly, resolved the problem. It may seem strange that I’m waxing fucking rhapsodic over customer service before I even discuss Shudder’s content, but never underestimate the power of strong customer service. Treat me right, and there is no fancy cup of coffee in the world that will make me give up my $5.99/mo subscription (and fuck you anyway, Starbucks).

Even if their customer service sucked, I would have a difficult time giving up my Shudder subscription. Currently, Shudder has, on average, 500 titles of incredibly eclectic content: rotgut grindhouse, cult classic, hidden gems, plenty of excellent international offerings (disclaimer: if you’re one of those people who bitch about subtitles, you might consider going to Screambox, instead…or you could evolve enough to enjoy some of the best horror being made. Your choice), forgotten classics, dark fantasy, dark thrillers, pure arthouse, mumblegore, action horror, creature features–both classic and neo–anthologies, queer horror, found footage (don’t hate), cerebral, documentaries, horror-comedy, and more giallo (gialli?) than you’ll find anywhere else in the streaming service stratosphere.

And that isn’t even including exclusives like the beautiful, ethereal, and then totally fucking bonkers Mandy (and let’s face it–Nicholas Cage is far better when he’s allowed to go full Nic Cage), the deeply complex, psychological thriller Beast, neo-arthouse vampire (yeah, I just made that up) film Bliss, a rare original possession film, Luz, the extraordinary Tigers are not Afraid and many, many others which indie horror fans might otherwise be hard-pressed to find. And, of course, like all streaming services now, they are busily cranking out Shudder Originals…which, truthfully, is as mixed a bag as other streaming originals, though there are standouts like Revenge, Gwen, the fabulously punk-authentic The Ranger, as well as some damn quality series, such as Wolf Creek (is it blasphemous to say I prefer the series to the actual movie if John Jarrett is still playing Mick Taylor?) and the–goddamn right, I’m saying it–vastly improved Creepshow.

And then there is the iconic Joe Bob Briggs who has found a permanent home at Shudder. I can’t say enough great things about him, but I will certainly try in a separate blog, because there is too much to say here.

In the name of fair and balanced, I’ve been trying to come up with things I don’t like about Shudder…and I really had to reach. With all of their sub-sub-genres they have categorized, I wish there was one which was exclusively folk horror, but that’s my personal fetish. Besides that, maybe a slightly improved interface? Not sure what the technical term is, but I wish you could hover the mouse over a selection and have the description pop up a la Netflix and Prime, rather than having to click through to read the synopsis and then lose your place upon return…but those are seriously the only negatives I can think of off the top of my head.

But don’t take my word for it; they have a 30-day free trial membership; if you’re not even comfortable with that, they also have free Shudder TV. Of course, you are at the mercy of their programming, but there aren’t any fucking commercials and beggars can’t be choosers, skippy, so as Jay in Kill List would tell you, quit yur wallying.

Either way, you will hear a lot about Shudder in this blog, whether it has to do with horror news, upcoming features, changes in programming or any number of other horror-related topics. What you won’t see is the automatic way I genuflect every time the name “Shudder” is mentioned. And yeah…it really is that good. And it’s still only $5.99 a month. So go get some.

Fio

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